Discrimination using services and public functions

Explains the law that protects you from discrimination when you use services or public functions, what you can do if you have been discriminated against and where you can get support and advice. Applies to England and Wales.

What can I do if a public authority has discriminated against me?

If you think that a public authority has discriminated against you when providing you services or public functions:

Public sector equality duty

Most public authorities have a special duty to consider eliminating discrimination, advance equality and foster good relations, called the public sector equality duty.

If a service provider is a public authority, you may want to think about whether they have followed their public sector equality duty.


A local authority plans to cut its mental health care support services. This decision has to follow the public sector equality duty. This means that the authority should:

  • consult the people who use the service and their families
  • consider the impact this decision will have on the service users and their families

If it fails to do this then it may not have followed its public sector equality duty and people may make complaints, or take them to court.

To find out more about the public sector equality duty, including how to make a complaint if you think an organisation is not following its duty, see our information on disability discrimination.

Human rights and public authorities

Public authorities have to respect your human rights as well as follow the Equality Act. This includes not discriminating against you, which is included in the Human Rights Act. For more information, including how to make a complaint if your rights haven't been respected, see our pages on the Human Rights Act.


This information was published in March 2016. We will revise it in 2019.

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